Not Completely Under the Weather

The twins have runny noses and Avery has a fever. Madison was the first of them to get sick and so far Lynnette and I have resisted illness. I’ve been feeling pre-sick for the last three afternoons and evenings but have combated that with a number of medicines in hopes that the viruses inside of me feel bullied by the extreme cocktail of chemicals coursing through my body and just decide to give up. It’s that or I’m going to be sick this weekend and hate life. The runny noses and fever haven’t stopped Cole and Avery doing them, though.

2At some time during the last week Cole started favoring walking rather than crawling and he’s been testing it out ever since. He can walk in a straight line; make sharp turns; stop, then pick up items off the floor, then stand and walk again; and make it across the play area completely. He’s so impressed with himself that sometimes he walks with is head down because he’s watching his feet. He laughs and squeals watching his porky hooves disappear, appear, disappear, appear beneath him. He often bumps into things as a result.

At night he usually falls asleep at my side. First, I open my Instagram account and play for him all of the videos of him and/or Avery. There’s one he loves above all the rest. I play that one last and the sounds of younger versions of Avery and himself hit him right in the feels. He smiles, laughs, and always attempts to talk back to his younger self and younger younger sister. Then, when we’ve taken care of that, I turn him on his side and begin patting his thigh. For a week, I’ve been singing what I call the “Nonsense Song”. It’s a song that moves quickly but it rhymes and features names I think would be familiar to him. There is no set tune, and it amounts to me freestyling gibberish. A portion of the “Nonsense Song” may sound like:

There’s a broom in a room and it’s headed for outer space.
It’s going to sweep up the stars and put ’em in our cars
so we can brighten up our days.
But the stars are too hot just like your Mem and we can’t hold them for too long.
Gravy’s gonna cry and Mad’s gonna whine, so we have to sing this song.

And I will just do this until Cole falls asleep. It usually takes a minute or two.

1Gravy has not begun walking yet, but Madison and I have seen her start to build the courage. Last night Madison shouted when she witnessed Avery lean off of the Lion Walker, take one tiny step, then dive into the couch. It’s progress.

She likes to play with what we call the “DJ Station” as pictured behind her in this picture. She enjoys propping herself up against the wall. My favorite thing is when she’s leaning against the wall in this way and the Hot Dog Song plays. She bobs her body up and down and sometimes the back of her head gently hits the wall. Then, it’s as if Avery thinks that’s cool because she appears to make a more specific effort to continue tapping the wall. But maybe it’s just the song she loves so much. Even if I just sing it out loud at random, there’s an 80% chance that she’ll stop whatever she’s doing to bounce along to the monotone droning of my voice.

I get paranoid – for obvious reasons – whenever Avery displays the slightest hint of illness. I worry and get all clingy with her and this seems to irritate her more than anything else. When I got home yesterday, she sat quietly on the floor of the play area. I plopped down next to her and said “Whatcha doing, Gravy?” she turned away. When I shouted dramatically as a response to her shunning, she didn’t reply. When I scooped her up in preparation to sit her on my tummy, she fussed and twisted her body. She didn’t want anything to do with me. Say what you will about her immune system, but this fever hasn’t debilitated her ability to troll her father, that’s for sure.


A Late-Blooming Witch?

Two weeks ago Lynnette suggested that Madison read the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was slow going initially but Madison claims she got into the book at “about chapter three because the letters from no one were pretty exciting”. I don’t know if that’s chronologically correct. But she’s reading and she’s enjoying it.

12During the first week she had to be told to invest 20 minutes a night reading. She always fussed at the beginning of the reading sessions, but was fully engrossed by the end of them. One weekend night Lynnette told Mad she had to read until chapter 11. I cruised in her room with her for a while, reading on my phone to keep her company. Eventually, the words on my phone got blurry. “Are you almost done?” I asked. “No,” she said. “Where are you?” I asked. “Chapter 11,” she said. “But I thought mom said you only had to read until chapter 11?” I said. “I know, but I can’t put it down,” she replied. This “can’t put it down” is what Lynnette promised Madison about the book before she started reading. Madison found this statement to be true.

last week as Madison hit the novel’s climax and resolution, she was so rapt by the story that she sat in her room – past her bedtime – and read by table light. On one of these school nights I saw her light on and popped into her room. “It’s 30 minutes past your bed time. What are you doing?” I said. “I’m reading!” she whisper-yelled. “You need to go to bed,” I said. “I can’t put it down, like mom said,” she said. Lynnette said that Mad had no trouble getting up the following morning. Hmmm…

Well, Mad’s Harry Potter’s got her under its spell now. We told Madison that if she finished the book, we could watch the movie version of the first book together. She’s watched it three times since Friday. She carries around the cleaner for her recorder and waves it around like a wand. “Madison, is that your recorder cleaner?” Lynnette asked this afternoon. “Yes,” Madison said. “Gross!” Lynnette said. “What, I haven’t used it in a long time,” Madison defended. “Do you mean to tell me you haven’t cleaned your recorder?” I asked. There was a long silence. “Yes,” Madison said, but not as confidently as before. She’s also taken to wearing the twins’ old play mat as her invisibility cloak. “How does it work?” I asked her. She slipped it over her head. High comedy. “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me!” she shouted gleefully from beneath the play mat. Man. She’s suspending the hell out of that disbelief. But she’s reading and she’s enjoying it, so yes, I pretend to not see her even when she’s full-on clowning like this, two feet from my face.

A Weekend Of New

12Lynnette’s cousin Jenn took Madison to dinner on Friday night. Both Cole’s and Avery’s noses have been a little runny so I told Lynnette I would head out to pick up dinner. Before I could, though, Jenn messaged Lynnette and told her that she would be happy to watch the twins while we went to dinner, if we could wait until they got back. I was already pretty hungry, but you can’t really put a price on eating in a restaurant without having to pin your infant child in the wall of a both between the back cushion, the side wall, and your ass. What I’m trying to say is that we waited.

My smart and beautiful wife suggested Izakaya Kei for dinner. There are two items pictured here and three more that are not and the both of us left satisfied. For my part, I suppose life is just mostly about getting through each day, so as we walked through the crowded Pearl Kai parking lot, I did not realized the gravity of this particular Friday night. I made some comment that I can’t remember, but I think there might have been some rough language in there. “Can you not speak like that?” Lynnette said. “It’s date night.” I laughed. “Look, you gotta take ’em where you can get ’em,” she said. She was right.

I think, however, our relationship – our love –  is best illustrated by our last order of the night. We were both 85%-90% full, but since it was Date Night, we wanted to get to 100%. I both sat there holding menus as our server walked over to check on us. “Just order the roll, already” Lynnette said. She was referring to the Rainbow Roll Deluxe. She knows my heart. When it came down to the last four pieces I said “You take those two with the hamachi. I already had some.” “You sure? I was actually going to say something,” she said. “Yeah, go ahead,” I said. Now, I want to make this very clear: All this anecdote is intended to show is that we know each other. It does not make any claims  about mind reading. I would never do that. Yes, those last three sentences were meant exclusively for Lynnette.

43On Saturday we hit up Ka Makana Ali’i, the new mall in Kapolei. The name of the mall is certainly a mouthful and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I’ve already spent roughly ten minutes trying to figure out how we locals are going to abbreviate the name in the same way that Ala Moana is “Alaz” and Pearlridge is simply “Pearlz”. It’s probably going to end up being “KMA” but my heart hopes for “Ka Makanz”, if for no other reason that the sake of consistency.

As yet, there’s nothing revolutionary about the mall – a bunch of stores and eateries have yet to open, so I’ll reserve judgment. It does boast a Five Guys, one of those crab pot places, both an Old Navy and a Skechers (my personal sponsors), and perhaps most importantly, an H&M. Now we will no longer need to battle eastbound traffic and Waikiki parking lots for our fix of trendy and reasonably priced clothing. We’ll probably be back in a month or so, just before the Christmas season kicks off.

We followed up the brand new mall with that oldest of family errands, the weekly trip to Costco. Cole got fussy near the end of our run so I took him out of the stroller and set him on the concrete seats built around the stone pillars fronting the entrance. I literally said “Here’s something new for you, boy,” as I stood him up and made sure he propped himself up against the wall. When he had adjusted to the cool concrete beneath his feet and the rough stone at his fingertips, he smiled and squealed. I wanted to memorialize his happiness forever by taking a picture of it, but I got my camera out just in time to snap this picture of Cole licking the pillar instead. “Cole Boy!” I shouted. He was startled and backed off the wall. Then he looked at me and kissed it again. I was promptly returned to his stroller. This is why we can’t have nice things, guys.

In keeping with the theme of this entry, I’ve included this short clip of the twins’ new trick, which is clapping. It also features Avery’s new favorite hobby in the whole wide world. Enjoy!

Substitute Grandma

Lynnette’s parents are on a cruise for a while so my mom has graciously volunteered to watch Cole and Avery during the day. Today was her first day of duty. It was also standardized testing day at work. This is one of the best days of the year. Everyone shows up, the teachers administer an exam that the students take, then everyone goes home just in time for lunch. I picked up lunch for myself and my mom on the way home.

1I got home just in time to help my mom feed the twins lunch. Cole and Avery were happy to see me, but the novelty wore off quickly as it always does. I was surprised to find out that Cole had gotten very clingy with my mom. “Mama #1 is gone, he’s just grabbing on to #2,” my mom said. Her guess is as good as any. I had hoped that after we fed the twins she and I would be able to eat lunch together, but it would not work out that way. Cole was despondent that Grandma Higa was not in the play area. So she sat in there with him and held him while they watched their 257th episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse together. “Sellout” I whispered into his ear as I placed him in my lap when Grandma went to use the bathroom.

Eventually my mom did get to eat her lunch. It was almost 2 in the afternoon when I told her she could go home. Madison was already home and that evened the odds. “You sure?” my mom asked. “Yeah, we got it,” I said. “You don’t have something to do or take care of?” she asked. “The only thing I need to take care of is a nap,” I said, about 9% jokingly. “Go ahead,” she said.And so I did. It was a heavy nap. It lasted for an hour, but felt like 5 because I knew the kids were good. When I got up, I came back into the living room and my mom and I had a nice talk while the kids chewed on fake plastic food.

My mom stayed even after Lynnette came home. She helped Lynnette feed Cole and Avery dinner as I made dinner for human residents over the age of 11 months. She left when I was nearly finished cooking. I made spaghetti with homemade meatballs. I saved some for my mom, but kept the noodles separate from the sauce because that’s how she likes it. She’s the only person in my family who prefers her pasta this way.

For so long my mom and I were the proverbial oil and water in our family. It wasn’t until I moved out that we started to get along better. Maybe she just needed to know that there was another woman around to watch over me and take care of me and passive-aggressively tell me how to live my life. I don’t know. But I know that on my side, it took becoming a parent for me to understand her. To be fair, there’s still so many of her choices in raising me that I disagree with, but I can see the weird parent-logic behind them now, the degree of difficulty in making the thousands of individual decisions – how sometimes a choice is 6-sided calculus problem that is an amalgamation of what you want to do, what you should do, what you have to do, when to do it, how to do it, and finally if you have the will to go through with any of it. There’s no manual and no test run so the only thing you can do is your best.

The Cost of Procrastination

“I keep thinking of Cole and Avery as babies. But they aren’t, are they?” I said to Lynnette on a drive home earlier this week. “No – they aren’t – but I feel that way, too,” she said. “They’ll be a year old in less than a month.”

321I have spent my entire life making things up as I go along. I am a procrastinator by nature and trade. The inherent problem with this self-chosen lifestyle, however, is that it constantly forces me into survival mode. Survival mode is the human setting which expands human capability in part by aggressively narrowing perspective. In other words, while a human may encounter multiple obstacles in a small window of time, those numerous goals are oversimplified into a single objective: making it through the day. When I am in survival mode, I am only concerned with finding the next pocket of unpressurized time, however brief it may be. Everything and everyone else falls away into the background. I was in survival mode from November of last year until June of this year. I went back there in July when Avery got sick. I’m just coming out of it now. I’ve gained 10 pounds since Avery went into the hospital. My pants and shorts fit differently. My jaw is being replaced by a second chin. I often don’t know what day it is. Sometimes when I drive and arrive at a location, it dawns on me that I have no recollection of the actual commute and I wonder what the hell I was thinking about the entire time. Did I even check before switching lanes? But worst of all, I’ve been distant as my kids have grown over the past year. It took this Fall Break for me to see that.

I spent more time with all of them together this week than at any time since June. We made all the requisite trips to Costco, Target, and Walmart this week, but spending time with them in that fenced in quarantine area revealed to me that I’ve missed out on so much despite the fact that I live in the same house.

Avery has the two ugliest laughs a cute baby can possibly possess. The first is the hard push of air through her nose which as earned her the name “Komodo Dragon” because when she laughs this way and crawls, she resembles the famed reptile. Also, she’s got a bunch of saliva around her mouth – luckily for us, it is of the non-poisonous variety. The second laugh is a weird inhaling of air into her throat. It is the stuff of Revenge of the Nerds lore and she breaks it out randomly for no reason.

This morning was the first time Cole ever obeyed a direct order from me. He moved to steal Avery’s fake pizza slice. Before he got his paws on it, I said “No, Cole Boy.” He froze and looked up at me. I shook my head. He motioned toward it again. “Ah-ah-ah” I uttered. He stopped and fell into a seated position. “Good boy,” I said. Then he clapped for himself. I clapped, too. “Thank you,” I said. He popped up and walked over to me and buried his face in my chest. “I love you, boy,” I said as I kissed the top of his head.

I took Madison to the zoo and a new playground on Friday. I learned that she’s a chatterbox (Lynnette’s word) in the front seat of the car. I started a wrestling podcast as we left the house, but missed roughly 70% of it behind my conversations with Madison. She talks to me about her teacher, her classmates, her disdain for the small portion sizes for lunch, especially the “four chicken nuggets that are even smaller than the ones at McDonald’s” because “you know I can eat 6 of the McDonald’s ones so four is so little bit and I’m starving by the end of the day.” She’s a bundle of facts and useless trivia just like I was until the internet obviated my use for a memory. Her speaking style is more sophisticated – even though she often replaces the “er” at the end of words with “ah”. The only kind of humor she understands and can replicate is puns and she makes the worstworstworst puns and absolutely as to throw in a “GET IT?” at the end of every joke.

I don’t know exactly when any of this stuff started happening. I wonder. What else have I missed? What else don’t I know about my own kids? I quit smoking. I think I’m going to try to do something even more difficult. I want to stop procrastinating. I stop forcing myself into survival mode. I will start tonight.


Shots! Shots!! Shots!!!

My three kids got flu shots today. The whole thing went as well as could be expected, and by that I mean only 67% of them cried.

1“I wish they still had the nose spray!” Madison lamented when I told her she’d be taking a flu shot today. “They said it doesn’t work,” I replied. “I know! That’s why I missed four days of school and had to stay in for recess for a week or so!” she shouted. Welp. “Why do I have to go first?” she asked when we arrived at the doctor’s office. “You have to go first to show Cole and Avery how to be strong and brave,” I said. “Yeah,” Lynnette said. “But they’re sleeping!” Madison countered. She was right. But still. Madison hopped up onto the bed and everything happened so fast that I barely had time to snap this picture. I was hoping for fear or pain or something, but she’s too old for that already. “That’s it!” the nurse said and Madison hopped off the bed at lightning speed. It was as if she was worried the nurse would change her mind or something.

2Cole was asleep when Lynnette rested him on the bed. The nurse counted to three and a moment later Cole woke from his slumber in a really bad mood. I always hear people use the phrase “rude awakening” in the figurative sense or in reference to the late “Ravishing” Rick Rude’s neck-breaker finisher, but today Lynnette, the kids’ doctor, and Madison all used the phrase literally. This is the kind of thing that an English major/teacher dork like myself would observe and feel obligated to write about. Anyway, Cole took it like a champ and stopped crying in under a minute. But then I guess he had flashbacks because he started crying again when we got into the parking lot. “Man, Cole holds grudges,” Lynnette said. Possibly. He was crying in the intense manner that is usually reserved for hunger, pain, hunger pains, and losing his binkie in the darkness of night.

3Like Cole, she was pulled from her sleep by a needle to the thigh, but she stopped crying almost immediately and never restarted – unlike her brother. In retrospect it makes sense. What can a flu shot do to her? After what she’s been through, I bet the flu shot wanted to make her laugh. If she could talk, I imagine that she scoffed at the needle and employed an apostrophe by addressing it directly with the swagger and contempt beyond her years:

C’mon, dawg. You seen what I’ve been through, right? You best believe a single needle is a minor inconvenience at best. I got poked like that on the daily back in the day. You need to bring that weak stuff to Phil. That clown’s still afraid of needles! Can you believe that? I know, right? Supposed to be my dad and stuff and the guy can’t even-

And it’s at that point I would have thanked the needle for coming and said “See you soon!” without meaning a word of it.

Avery at 11 Months

1Daddy’s Little Troll continues to recover from her extended stint in the hospital. She hasn’t taken any steps yet, but she’s started facing out from the couch and leaning her behind against it. It must infuriate her to watch her brother saunter around the play area, but like everything else Avery’s ever done, I assume she’ll get around to it when she’s good and ready. For now, she’s content to crawl around the play area and cruise along the perimeter.

Lynnette and I noticed recently that she’s bow-legged; her feet also turn inward sometimes. I had both of these traits as a kid and needed to wear special footwear to correct. Them I don’t remember any of it but my mom says it was miserable. Let’s hope that’s not in store for Avery.

2Lynnette loves Avery for many reasons and one of the traits she points out most is the way Avery eats. She’s the most aggressive eater in the house not named Abby or Phil. Cole can eat, but he always get distracted. He wants to play with a spoon or look at the leaves in the trees outside the window. Not Avery. When she’s strapped into her high chair, she’s locked in. Lynnette never seems to get the spoon to Avery’s mouth quick enough for her liking. She’s better at feeding herself by hand than Cole is. Avery can use just three fingers to get food into her mouth. Cole still balls the treats up in his fist, jams the entire fist into his mouth, then opens his fingers as needed to drop the treat into his throat. He’s a barbarian; Avery is something like a lady.

Today is the first day of Fall Break and I’ll be treated to my favorite Avery-related thing all week long. As you know, Cole wakes up for the day at some point after 6 am – closer to 7 if I am lucky. Well, once he’s up, I take him into the living room to play. From that point, we’re both just waiting for Avery to wake up. It starts with rustling. Aside: Avery sleeps soundly if she’s got her Honey (burp cloth) in her hands and face. The problem was that she’d roll around so much that she’d lose track of her burp cloth. “I put a bunch of Honeys in Avery’s crib” Lynnette told me about a week after Gravy returned from the hospital. The first time I peeked in the crib, there were four cloths in there. This weekend I went to get Avery out of bed and there were 9 or so, just strewn about every inch of the crib. I laughed. I can hear Avery from the living room. Sometimes I take a look in the room and I can see the top of her head over the bumper. But I wait. Eventually, she’ll make a small noise. It’s a cross between a grunt and a “Sup, Boi?!” I walk to the door way and wait until she sees me. Because the room is still dimly lit with morning, her eyes are at their largest and roundest. I smile and she smiles back. I always pick her up and hold her over my head. We look at each other. “Good morning, Gravy!” I say. Most of the time she just smiles. But every once in a while she throws me that laugh which is just her blowing air through her nostrils. That sound is one of the best things going in my life.